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Biology

This ant often builds its nest in soil, in tree stumps or under stones or logs, and it frequently nests beneath paving stones in gardens (4). It may occasionally invade the nests of other species of ants (1). Colonies number around 5, 500 individuals (1). A wide range of food is eaten, including seeds, flower nectar, flies and other small insects, which are killed and taken back to the nest. Small black ants also 'milk' aphids, collecting drops of sweet honeydew exuded by the aphids. Aphids may even be taken into the nest (2). Winged reproductive males and females engage in a mass mating flight in hot, humid weather during July and August (2). Males die after mating, and females establish new colonies. A queen mates only once, storing sufficient sperm inside her body to last her lifetime. The mating flight ensures that the species disperses well, and also increases the chance that males and females from different nests will mate, avoiding inbreeding, as the winged reproductive adults of different colonies in one area fly at the same time (3). After finding a suitable location, the queen begins to produce eggs. The resulting 'workers' are non-reproductive females, who take over the care of the colony. After hatching, the larvae initially feed on unhatched eggs; they are then fed by the workers on a regurgitated fluid (3).

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Source: ARKive

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